News Column

Union Sees Safety Impacts From Gov't Furloughs

April 26, 2013

US labour union The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists AFL-CIO said has been monitoring the situation related to the FAA furloughs and sequestration and is reporting significant impacts to aviation maintenance, efficiency and performance.

The union represents over 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees, including systems specialists, aviation safety inspectors, aeronautical specialists and administrative personnel.

According to the union, at airports and air traffic control facilities across the country, work is being deferred, equipment is not getting fixed, and flights are being delayed or diverted as a result of the sequestration budget cuts and the furloughing of the FAA workforce.

PASS cited Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, where this week radio and telephone communication capability was lost due to routine battery discharge tests.

The systems specialist with the most experience was on furlough at the time of the incident. Systems specialists on site attempted to contact him but, even though he is geographically located near the facility, he was prevented from responding due to restrictions placed on furloughed employees.

Had the systems specialist not been on furlough, the outage could have been minimized and delays reduced, the union said.

In another incident cited by the union, a glide slope failed at the Long Island Mac Arthur Airport failed, causing a Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) flight to be diverted to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

While the policy for this equipment is immediate restoral, due to sequestration and furloughs, it was changed to next-day restoral.

When inclement weather developed last night and the glide slope was out of service, flights had to be diverted. At press, the glide slope remains out of service.

PASS said it is learning of additional impacts nationwide, including open watches, increased restoration times, delays resulting from insufficient funding for parts and equipment, modernization delays, missed or deferred preventative maintenance, and reduced redundancy.




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